Wednesday, February 13, 2019


1939, France, directed by Robert Siodmak

French-period Siodmak, and very brisk fun: seen shortly after Sirk's remake, as Lured/Personal Column, the debt owed by the later film is a good deal more obvious, with certain sequences essentially shot-for-shot reproductions, though the actors give each film a nice variation in flavor. 

Saturday, February 09, 2019

A nos amours

1983, France, directed by Maurice Pialat

Perhaps the most unsettling film in the Pialat canon, in large part because of the director's extraordinary onscreen presence. The genuine rigours, both emotional and physical, through which the actors are put are very apparent here, with them forced to react to Pialat-as-actor's incredibly unpredictability and even violence, not least in the extraordinary dinner-party scene where his character returns to the family home after a period of exile and throws what seems like a new equilibirum utterly off-balance. Pialat is a terrific, though challenging, actor in his own right, and on the strength of this film it's not hard to see why others might not have wanted to direct him, though he seems to have enjoyed considerable loyalty from several actors who returned several times to his sets.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Mélodie en sous-sol

1963, France, directed by Henri Verneuil

A weaker entry in the Gabin canon, though never without interest, not least as the first of three films uniting Gabin with Alain Delon, cast very much as the youthful rebel. The opening, set in under-construction Sarcelles, is quite fascinating, with Gabin's character returning from prison to a transformed landscape; the oppressive effect of the new construction is reminiscent of the tone of Gabin's slightly later, and much more challenging, Le Chat, set against a similar background. While the locations in the opening going make a real impact, the subsequent blend of location and studio shooting is very rough-edged, with the studio sets so obviously artificial.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Destry Rides Again

1939, US, directed by George Marshall

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Touchez pas au grisbi

1953, France, directed by Jacques Becker

One of the true marvels of the French gangster genre, with its own codes and conventions, quite different to the American counterparts -- impossible to imagine the wonderful scene of two men sharing a late-night sandwich, never mind the subsequent scene when they brush their teeth, in an American movie of the period. As magnetic as Gabin was in the pre-war years, he's rarely been as magnificent as on this occasion -- every moment he's offscreen you sense his influence, even with the wonderful supporting cast (Dary, Ventura, Moreau, Frankeur and more).

Deux hommes dans la ville

1973, France/Italy, directed by José Giovanni

The final film featuring both Gabin and Delon, with the older star ceding much of the running time to his younger, though already established, counterpart; indeed, Gabin is offscreen for a great deal of the film, which focuses on Delon's character, recently released from prison and attempting to go straight (Gabin plays his parole officer). Gabin is in peak avuncular mode, the éminence grise who has seen it all, though even then he doesn't have Delon's special line in world-weariness. The film is blunt on the impact of prison and the challenges of rehabilitation, though director José Giovanni had his own complex, up-close relationship to the institution of incarceration -- he willingly collaborated with the German occupation, and was involved in various gangland activities, ending up in prison for more than eleven years before beginning his second act as a novelist and filmmaker while carefully occluding the less savoury details of his past. While the film is ultimately less profound than Giovanni would like us to believe, some of the details on the French legal system are piquant, while Gérard Depardieu and Bernard Giraudeau make notable early appearances.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sudden Fear

1952, US, directed by David Miller

A film that I'd wanted to see after reading Farran Smith Nehme's very engaging appreciation in Film Comment, this did not disappoint, a noir with a deep vein of high-pitch melodrama. Joan Crawford is excellent in one of the strongest roles of her later career, reacting to the most alarming of circumstances and setting in motion a plot of her own, while she gets particularly good support from Jack Palance, so angular here that he looks like an actor as drawn by Picasso at times.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Yankee Doodle Dandy

1942, US, directed by Michael Curtiz

Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire

1972, France, directed by Yves Robert


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States